Chapter 36


If Elizabeth, when Mr. Darcy gave her the letter, did not expect it to contain a renewal of his offers, she had formed no expectation at all of its contents. But such as they were, it may well be supposed how eagerly she went through them, and what a contrariety of emotion they excited. Her feelings as she read were scarcely to be defined. With amazement did she first understand that he believed any apology to be in his power; and steadfastly was she persuaded, that he could have no explanation to give, which a just sense of shame would not conceal. With a strong prejudice against everything he might say, she began his account of what had happened at Netherfield. She read with an eagerness which hardly left her power of comprehension, and from impatience of knowing what the next sentence might bring, was incapable of attending to the sense of the one before her eyes. His belief of her sister's insensibility she instantly resolved to be false; and his account of the real, the worst objections to the match, made her too angry to have any wish of doing him justice. He expressed no regret for what he had done which satisfied her; his style was not penitent, but haughty. It was all pride and insolence. No esperaba Elizabeth, cuando Darcy le dio la carta, que en ella repitiese su proposición, pero no tenía ni idea de qué podía contener. Al descubrirlo, bien se puede suponer con qué rapidez la leyó y cuán encontradas sensaciones vino a suscitarle. Habría sido difícil definir sus sentimientos. Al principio creyó con asombro que Darcy querría disculparse lo mejor que pudiese, pero en seguida se convenció firmemente de que no podría darle ninguna explicación que el más elemental sentido de la dignidad no aconsejara ocultar. Con gran prejuicio contra todo lo que él pudiera decir, empezó a leer su relato acerca de lo sucedido en Netherfield. Sus ojos recorrían el papel con tal ansiedad que apenas tenía tiempo de comprender, y su impaciencia por saber lo que decía la frase siguiente le impedía entender el sentido de la que estaba leyendo. Al instante dio por hecho que la creencia de Darcy en la indiferencia de su hermana era falsa, y las peores objeciones que ponía a aquel matrimonio la enojaban demasiado para poder hacerle justicia. A ella le satisfacía que no expresase ningún arrepentimiento por lo que había hecho; su estilo no revelaba contrición, sino altanería. En sus líneas no veía más que orgullo e insolencia.
But when this subject was succeeded by his account of Mr. Wickham--when she read with somewhat clearer attention a relation of events which, if true, must overthrow every cherished opinion of his worth, and which bore so alarming an affinity to his own history of himself--her feelings were yet more acutely painful and more difficult of definition. Astonishment, apprehension, and even horror, oppressed her. She wished to discredit it entirely, repeatedly exclaiming, "This must be false! This cannot be! This must be the grossest falsehood!"--and when she had gone through the whole letter, though scarcely knowing anything of the last page or two, put it hastily away, protesting that she would not regard it, that she would never look in it again. Pero cuando pasó a lo concerniente a Wickham, leyó ya con mayor atención. Ante aquel relato de los hechos que, de ser auténtico, había de destruir toda su buena opinión del joven, y que guardaba una alarmante afinidad con lo que el mismo Wickham había contado, sus sentimientos fueron aún más penosos y más difíciles de definir; el desconcierto, el recelo e incluso el horror la oprimían. Hubiese querido desmentirlo todo y exclamó repetidas veces: «¡Eso tiene que ser falso, eso no puede ser! ¡Debe de ser el mayor de los embustes!» Acabó de leer la carta, y sin haberse enterado apenas de la última o las dos últimas páginas, la guardó rápidamente y quejándose se dijo que no la volvería a mirar, que no quería saber nada de todo aquello.
In this perturbed state of mind, with thoughts that could rest on nothing, she walked on; but it would not do; in half a minute the letter was unfolded again, and collecting herself as well as she could, she again began the mortifying perusal of all that related to Wickham, and commanded herself so far as to examine the meaning of every sentence. The account of his connection with the Pemberley family was exactly what he had related himself; and the kindness of the late Mr. Darcy, though she had not before known its extent, agreed equally well with his own words. So far each recital confirmed the other; but when she came to the will, the difference was great. What Wickham had said of the living was fresh in her memory, and as she recalled his very words, it was impossible not to feel that there was gross duplicity on one side or the other; and, for a few moments, she flattered herself that her wishes did not err. But when she read and re-read with the closest attention, the particulars immediately following of Wickham's resigning all pretensions to the living, of his receiving in lieu so considerable a sum as three thousand pounds, again was she forced to hesitate. She put down the letter, weighed every circumstance with what she meant to be impartiality--deliberated on the probability of each statement--but with little success. On both sides it was only assertion. Again she read on; but every line proved more clearly that the affair, which she had believed it impossible that any contrivance could so represent as to render Mr. Darcy's conduct in it less than infamous, was capable of a turn which must make him entirely blameless throughout the whole. En semejante estado de perturbación, asaltada por mil confusos pensamientos, siguió paseando; pero no sirvió de nada; al cabo de medio minuto sacó de nuevo la carta y sobreponiéndose lo mejor que pudo, comenzó otra vez la mortificante lectura de lo que a Wickham se refería, dominándose hasta examinar el sentido de cada frase. Lo de su relación con la familia de Pemberley era exactamente lo mismo que él había dicho, y la bondad del viejo señor Darcy, a pesar de que Elizabeth no había sabido hasta ahora hasta dónde había llegado, también coincidían con lo indicado por el propio Wickham. Por lo tanto, un relato confirmaba el otro, pero cuando llegaba al tema del testamento la cosa era muy distinta. Todo lo que éste había dicho acerca de su beneficio eclesiástico estaba fresco en la memoria de la joven, y al recordar sus palabras tuvo que reconocer que había doble intención en uno u otro lado, y por unos instantes creyó que sus deseos no la engañaban. Pero cuando leyó y releyó todo lo sucedido a raíz de haber rehusado Wickham a la rectoría, a cambio de lo cual había recibido una suma tan considerable como tres mil libras, no pudo menos que volver a dudar. Dobló la carta y pesó todas las circunstancias con su pretendida imparcialidad, meditando sobre las probabilidades de sinceridad de cada relato, pero no adelantó nada; de uno y otro lado no encontraba más que afirmaciones. Se puso a leer de nuevo, pero cada línea probaba con mayor claridad que aquel asunto que ella no creyó que pudiese ser explicado más que como una infamia en detrimento del proceder de Darcy, era susceptible de ser expuesto de tal modo que dejaba a Darcy totalmente exento de culpa.
The extravagance and general profligacy which he scrupled not to lay at Mr. Wickham's charge, exceedingly shocked her; the more so, as she could bring no proof of its injustice. She had never heard of him before his entrance into the ----shire Militia, in which he had engaged at the persuasion of the young man who, on meeting him accidentally in town, had there renewed a slight acquaintance. Of his former way of life nothing had been known in Hertfordshire but what he told himself. As to his real character, had information been in her power, she had never felt a wish of inquiring. His countenance, voice, and manner had established him at once in the possession of every virtue. She tried to recollect some instance of goodness, some distinguished trait of integrity or benevolence, that might rescue him from the attacks of Mr. Darcy; or at least, by the predominance of virtue, atone for those casual errors under which she would endeavour to class what Mr. Darcy had described as the idleness and vice of many years' continuance. But no such recollection befriended her. She could see him instantly before her, in every charm of air and address; but she could remember no more substantial good than the general approbation of the neighbourhood, and the regard which his social powers had gained him in the mess. After pausing on this point a considerable while, she once more continued to read. But, alas! the story which followed, of his designs on Miss Darcy, received some confirmation from what had passed between Colonel Fitzwilliam and herself only the morning before; and at last she was referred for the truth of every particular to Colonel Fitzwilliam himself--from whom she had previously received the information of his near concern in all his cousin's affairs, and whose character she had no reason to question. At one time she had almost resolved on applying to him, but the idea was checked by the awkwardness of the application, and at length wholly banished by the conviction that Mr. Darcy would never have hazarded such a proposal, if he had not been well assured of his cousin's corroboration. Lo de los vicios y la prodigalidad que Darcy no vacilaba en imputarle a Wickham, la indignaba en exceso, tanto más cuanto que no tenía pruebas para rebatir el testimonio de Darcy. Elizabeth no había oído hablar nunca de Wickham antes de su ingreso en la guarnición del condado, a lo cual le había inducido su encuentro casual en Londres con un joven a quien sólo conocía superficialmente. De su antigua vida no se sabía en Hertfordshire más que lo que él mismo había contado. En cuanto a su verdadero carácter, y a pesar de que Elizabeth tuvo ocasión de analizarlo, nunca sintió deseos de hacerlo; su aspecto, su voz y sus modales le dotaron instantáneamente de todas las virtudes. Trató de recordar algún rasgo de nobleza, algún gesto especial de integridad o de bondad que pudiese librarle de los ataques de Darcy, o, por lo menos, que el predominio de buenas cualidades le compensara de aquellos errores casuales, que era como ella se empeñaba en calificar lo que Darcy tildaba de holgazanería e inmoralidad arraigados en él desde siempre. Se imaginó a Wickham delante de ella, y lo recordó con todo el encanto de su trato, pero aparte de la aprobación general de que disfrutaba en la localidad y la consideración que por su simpatía había ganado entre sus camaradas, Elizabeth no pudo hallar nada más en su favor. Después de haber reflexionado largo rato sobre este punto, reanudó la lectura. Pero lo que venía a continuación sobre la aventura con la señorita Darcy fue confirmado en parte por la conversación que Elizabeth había tenido la mañana anterior con el coronel Fitzwilliam; y, al final de la carta, Darcy apelaba, para probar la verdad de todo, al propio coronel, cuya intervención en todos los asuntos de su primo Elizabeth conocía por anticipado, y cuya veracidad no tenía motivos para poner en entredicho. Estuvo a punto de recurrir a él, pero se contuvo al pensar lo violento que sería dar ese paso; desechándolo, al fin, convencida de que Darcy no se habría arriesgado nunca a proponérselo sin tener la absoluta seguridad de que su primo corroboraría sus afirmaciones.
She perfectly remembered everything that had passed in conversation between Wickham and herself, in their first evening at Mr. Phillips's. Many of his expressions were still fresh in her memory. She was now struck with the impropriety of such communications to a stranger, and wondered it had escaped her before. She saw the indelicacy of putting himself forward as he had done, and the inconsistency of his professions with his conduct. She remembered that he had boasted of having no fear of seeing Mr. Darcy--that Mr. Darcy might leave the country, but that he should stand his ground; yet he had avoided the Netherfield ball the very next week. She remembered also that, till the Netherfield family had quitted the country, he had told his story to no one but herself; but that after their removal it had been everywhere discussed; that he had then no reserves, no scruples in sinking Mr. Darcy's character, though he had assured her that respect for the father would always prevent his exposing the son. Recordaba perfectamente todo lo que Wickham le dijo cuando hablaron por primera vez en casa del señor Philips; muchas de sus expresiones estaban aún íntegramente en su memoria. Ahora se daba cuenta de lo impropio de tales confidencias a una persona extraña y se admiraba de no haber caído antes en ello. Veía la falta de delicadeza que implicaba el ponerse en evidencia de aquel modo, y la incoherencia de sus declaraciones con su conducta. Se acordaba de que se jactó de no temer ver a Darcy y de que éste tendría que irse, pero que él no se movería, lo que no le impidió evadirse para no asistir al baile de Netherfield a la semana siguiente. También recordaba que hasta que la familia de Netherfield no había abandonado el condado, no contó su historia nada más que a ella, pero desde su marcha, la citada historia corrió de boca en boca, y Wickham no tuvo el menor escrúpulo en hundir la reputación de Darcy, por más que anteriormente le había asegurado a Elizabeth que el respeto al padre le impediría siempre agraviar al hijo.
How differently did everything now appear in which he was concerned! His attentions to Miss King were now the consequence of views solely and hatefully mercenary; and the mediocrity of her fortune proved no longer the moderation of his wishes, but his eagerness to grasp at anything. His behaviour to herself could now have had no tolerable motive; he had either been deceived with regard to her fortune, or had been gratifying his vanity by encouraging the preference which she believed she had most incautiously shown. Every lingering struggle in his favour grew fainter and fainter; and in farther justification of Mr. Darcy, she could not but allow Mr. Bingley, when questioned by Jane, had long ago asserted his blamelessness in the affair; that proud and repulsive as were his manners, she had never, in the whole course of their acquaintance--an acquaintance which had latterly brought them much together, and given her a sort of intimacy with his ways--seen anything that betrayed him to be unprincipled or unjust--anything that spoke him of irreligious or immoral habits; that among his own connections he was esteemed and valued--that even Wickham had allowed him merit as a brother, and that she had often heard him speak so affectionately of his sister as to prove him capable of some amiable feeling; that had his actions been what Mr. Wickham represented them, so gross a violation of everything right could hardly have been concealed from the world; and that friendship between a person capable of it, and such an amiable man as Mr. Bingley, was incomprehensible. ¡Qué diferente le parecía ahora todo lo que se refería a Wickham! Sus atenciones para con la señorita King eran ahora única y exclusivamente la consecuencia de sus odiosas perspectivas de cazador de dotes, y la mediocridad de la fortuna de la señorita ya no eran la prueba de la moderación de sus ambiciones, sino el afán de agarrarse a cualquier cosa. Su actitud con Elizabeth no podía tener ahora un motivo aceptable: o se había engañado al principio en cuanto a sus bienes, o había tratado de halagar su propia vanidad alimentando la preferencia que ella le demostró incautamente. Todos los esfuerzos que hacía para defenderle se iban debilitando progresivamente. Y para mayor justificación de Darcy, no pudo menos que reconocer que Bingley, al ser interrogado por Jane, proclamó tiempo atrás la inocencia de Darcy en aquel asunto; que por muy orgulloso y repelente que fuese, nunca, en todo el curso de sus relaciones con él –– relaciones que últimamente les habían acercado mucho, permitiéndole a ella conocer más a fondo su carácter –– , le había visto hacer nada innoble ni injusto, nada por lo que pudiera tachársele de irreligioso o inmoral; que entre sus amigos era apreciado y querido, y que hasta el mismo Wickham había reconocido que era un buen hermano. Ella también le había oído hablar de su hermana con un afecto tal que demostraba que tenía buenos sentimientos. Si hubiese sido como Wickham le pintaba, capaz de tal violación de todos los derechos, habría sido difícil que nadie lo supiera, y la amistad entre un ser semejante y un hombre tan amable como Bingley habría sido incomprensible.
She grew absolutely ashamed of herself. Of neither Darcy nor Wickham could she think without feeling she had been blind, partial, prejudiced, absurd. Llegó a avergonzarse de sí misma. No podía pensar en Darcy ni en Wickham sin reconocer que había sido parcial, absurda, que había estado ciega y llena de prejuicios.
"How despicably I have acted!" she cried; "I, who have prided myself on my discernment! I, who have valued myself on my abilities! who have often disdained the generous candour of my sister, and gratified my vanity in useless or blameable mistrust! How humiliating is this discovery! Yet, how just a humiliation! Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind! But vanity, not love, has been my folly. Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either were concerned. Till this moment I never knew myself." «¡De qué modo tan despreciable he obrado –– pensó –– , yo que me enorgullecía de mi perspicacia! ¡Yo que me he vanagloriado de mi talento, que he desdeñado el generoso candor de mi hermana y he halagado mi vanidad con recelos inútiles o censurables! ¡Qué humillante es todo esto, pero cómo merezco esta humillación! Si hubiese estado enamorada de Wickham, no habría actuado con tan lamentable ceguera. Pero la vanidad, y no el amor, ha sido mi locura. Complacida con la preferencia del uno y ofendida con el desprecio del otro, me he entregado desde el principio a la presunción y a la ignorancia, huyendo de la razón en cuanto se trataba de cualquiera de los dos. Hasta este momento no me conocía a mí misma.»
From herself to Jane--from Jane to Bingley, her thoughts were in a line which soon brought to her recollection that Mr. Darcy's explanation there had appeared very insufficient, and she read it again. Widely different was the effect of a second perusal. How could she deny that credit to his assertions in one instance, which she had been obliged to give in the other? He declared himself to be totally unsuspicious of her sister's attachment; and she could not help remembering what Charlotte's opinion had always been. Neither could she deny the justice of his description of Jane. She felt that Jane's feelings, though fervent, were little displayed, and that there was a constant complacency in her air and manner not often united with great sensibility. De sí misma a Jane y de Jane a Bingley, sus pensamientos recorrían un camino que no tardó en conducirla a recordar que la explicación que Darcy había dado del asunto de éstos le había parecido muy insuficiente, y volvió a leerla. El efecto de esta segunda lectura fue muy diferente. ¿Cómo no podía dar crédito a lo que Darcy decía sobre uno de los puntos, si se había visto forzada a dárselo en el otro? Darcy declaraba haber sospechado siempre que Jane no sentía ningún amor por Bingley, y Elizabeth recordó cuál había sido la opinión de Charlotte. Tampoco podía discutir la exactitud de su descripción de Jane; a Elizabeth le constaba que los sentimientos de su hermana, aunque fervientes, habían sido poco exteriorizados; y que la constante complacencia en su aire y maneras a menudo no iba unida a una gran sensibilidad.
When she came to that part of the letter in which her family were mentioned in terms of such mortifying, yet merited reproach, her sense of shame was severe. The justice of the charge struck her too forcibly for denial, and the circumstances to which he particularly alluded as having passed at the Netherfield ball, and as confirming all his first disapprobation, could not have made a stronger impression on his mind than on hers. Cuando llegó a la parte de la carta donde Darcy mencionaba a su familia en términos de tan humillantes aunque merecidos reproches, Elizabeth sintió verdadera vergüenza. La justicia de sus acusaciones le parecía demasiado evidente para que pudiera negarla, y las circunstancias a las que aludía en particular como ocurridas en el baile de Netherfield, no le podían haber impresionado a él más de lo que le habían abochornado a ella.
The compliment to herself and her sister was not unfelt. It soothed, but it could not console her for the contempt which had thus been self-attracted by the rest of her family; and as she considered that Jane's disappointment had in fact been the work of her nearest relations, and reflected how materially the credit of both must be hurt by such impropriety of conduct, she felt depressed beyond anything she had ever known before. El elogio que Darcy les tributaba a ella y a su hermana no le pasó inadvertido. La halagó, pero no pudo consolarse por el desprecio que implicaba para el resto de la familia; y al considerar que los sinsabores de Jane habían sido en realidad obra de su misma familia, y al reflexionar en lo mal parado que había de quedar el crédito de ambas por aquella conducta impropia, sintió un abatimiento que hasta entonces no había conocido.
After wandering along the lane for two hours, giving way to every variety of thought--re-considering events, determining probabilities, and reconciling herself, as well as she could, to a change so sudden and so important, fatigue, and a recollection of her long absence, made her at length return home; and she entered the house with the wish of appearing cheerful as usual, and the resolution of repressing such reflections as must make her unfit for conversation. Después de andar dos horas a lo largo del camino dando vueltas a la diversidad de sus pensamientos, considerando de nuevo los hechos, determinando posibilidades y haciéndose paulatinamente a tan repentino e importante cambio, la fatiga y el acordarse del tiempo que hacía que estaba fuera la hicieron regresar a la casa. Entró en ella con el propósito de aparentar su alegría de siempre y resuelta a reprimir los pensamientos que la asediaban, ya que de otra forma no sería capaz de mantener conversación alguna.
She was immediately told that the two gentlemen from Rosings had each called during her absence; Mr. Darcy, only for a few minutes, to take leave--but that Colonel Fitzwilliam had been sitting with them at least an hour, hoping for her return, and almost resolving to walk after her till she could be found. Elizabeth could but just affect concern in missing him; she really rejoiced at it. Colonel Fitzwilliam was no longer an object; she could think only of her letter. Le dijeron que lo dos caballeros de Rosings habían estado allí durante su ausencia; Darcy sólo por breves instantes, para despedirse; pero que el coronel Fitzwilliam se había quedado una hora por lo menos, para ver si ella llegaba y casi dispuesto a ir en su busca. A Elizabeth apenas le afectaba la partida del coronel; en realidad se alegraba. Sólo podía pensar en la carta de Darcy.